An Afternoon on the River

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 | Family, Travel

Friends of my niece Megan threw her a going away camping party in Guerneville a few weeks ago. Megan’s moving to Indonesia to marry her boyfriend of many years, Garna. My sister June and I drove up to spend the day with them at their campsite, envisioning toasted marshmallows and bonding around a campfire. When we got to the abandoned campsite, Megan sent me a text saying that they were at the beach in town and to join them there. I did bring sunscreen, but despite driving up to spend the day on the river, the image of that campfire bonding experience somehow didn’t include engaging with the river in any way, and I brought neither swim trunks, towel, hat, flip flops… nothing beachy. June neither. At the beach, Megan was alone, moodily contemplating her big move. Her friends had paddled upstream in their inflatable devices to do mushrooms. I felt so middle-aged, nervously envisioning what the psychedelic experience of drowning might be like, their smiling corpses soon floating back downstream to us.

My immediate concern was how to get comfortable on that hot rocky beach. Megan generously offered us a few inches of her towel to share, but I found a piece of plastic in my car that we used to separate our sweating bodies from the toasty beach, and my shoes and socks as pillows. Our conversation shifted between Megan’s plans, delivered from her comfy towel, Megan elegantly attired in her one-piece suit and wide-brimmed hat, and whether June and I should swim in our undies. Finally we just said we couldn’t take it anymore, sweatily kissed dear Megan goodbye, and headed to Safeway for electrolytes.

In the parking lot a nasty domestic encounter quickly escalated into a public spectacle. One stringy haired lady was duking it out nastily with another stringy-haired lady over some sad sack of a guy. Stringy hairs were pulled, halter tops ripped, sunglasses went flying, and at one point one of the stringy haired ladies–I surmised that she was the jilted lover–pointed at the poor sad sack’s package and screamed at the other stringy haired lady “That particular part of his anatomy is mine. Mine! Mine!!! You can’t have it, you multiple expletives deleted!” I really wanted to stay and see how this all resolved itself. I didn’t think that the injured former lover’s tactics seemed potentially very productive. Instead of bruised ribs and restraining orders, did she imagine some other possible outcome? “You know, my stringy haired darling, you’re right, this particular anatomical area is indeed yours—as is my heart. It not only brings a smile to my face to see you beating my lover and screaming at the top of your lungs in front of all these Safeway shoppers, it kind of turns me on… let’s go back to your place and make mad passionate love.”

Around that time, an article in the Chronicle appeared, detailing reasons to make Guerneville a vacation destination. Guerneville is indeed still kicking. And so are its ladies.

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